Mario Andretti joins NBCSN’s F1 coverage from Monza this weekend

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Racing fans will be treated to the voice of one of the greatest drivers of all-time this weekend. Mario Andretti will join NBCSN’s coverage of the Formula One Italian Grand Prix from historic Monza for pre-race, race and post-race broadcasts as a guest analyst.

Andretti won at Monza in 1977 and also clinched the 1978 Formula One World Championship there . Andretti’s distinguished list of awards and accomplishments include Driver of the Century honors by both the Associated Press and RACER Magazine, and over 100 victories during his five-decade career.

NBCSN’s comprehensive coverage of the Italian Grand Prix begins on Friday morning with live coverage of practice at 8 a.m. ET. Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix will also air live on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. ET. Live pre-race coverage of the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday begins at 7:30 a.m. ET, with the race slated to begin at 8 a.m. ET. F1 Extra, NBC Sports Group’s half-hour post-race show, will air immediately following the conclusion of the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday. All are also available on NBC Sports Live Extra live streaming.

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) cruised to victory in the Shell Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Aug. 25, increasing his lead atop the F1 Points Standings over Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) to 46 points with eight races left in the 2013 campaign. Vettel and Alonso have each won the Italian Grand Prix twice; Vettel won in 2008 and 2011, while Alonso took the checkered flag in 2007 and 2010. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) currently sits in third place (139 pts) in the F1 Points Standings, and took first place at the Italian Grand Prix last year.

Here’s Andretti on the experience and the current state of play in F1:

Andretti on joining NBCSN’s Formula One telecast: “I’m flattered to have been asked, and I’m looking forward to joining NBCSN’s iconic team of Formula One announcers. I hope they don’t expect too much because I’m a real rookie – I’ve only done one or two races, and I was paying attention to my son (former Formula One and IndyCar driver) Michael most of the time.”

Andretti on personal significance of Italian Grand Prix: “The Italian Grand Prix has particular significance and importance for me, being Italian and having seen my very first Formula One race right there at Monza. At that point, I can say my real dream of becoming a race car driver began.”

Andretti on the state of Formula One: “Formula One is really enjoying its glory days. It’s probably as well-positioned and interesting as ever. You have five world champions competing at the same time, all young enough to have long careers. The level of talent is probably unprecedented.”

In addition to its live coverage of the Italian Grand Prix, NBCSN’s more than 15 hours of motorsports coverage this weekend will also include TRANSLOGIC and Mobil 1 The GridA full release of NBCSN’s motorsports coverage this weekend is linked here, via the NBC Sports Group Press Box website.

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Thur., September 5 TRANSLOGIC: Green Garage Gods NBCSN 11 p.m.
TRANSLOGIC: DeLorean DMC-12 NBCSN 11:30 p.m.
Fri., September 6 Mobil 1 The Grid NBCSN 12 a.m.
F1 Italian Grand Prix – Practice NBCSN 8 a.m.
TRANSLOGIC: Green Garage Gods (Encore) NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Sat., September 7 TRANSLOGIC: DeLorean DMC-12 (Encore) NBCSN 12 a.m.
F1 Italian Grand Prix – Practice (Encore) NBCSN 12:30 a.m.
Mobil 1 The Grid (Encore) NBCSN 2 a.m.
F1 Italian Grand Prix – Qualifying NBCSN 8 a.m.
Sun., September 8 F1 Italian Grand Prix – Qualifying (Encore) NBCSN 12:30 a.m.
F1 Italian Grand Prix NBCSN 7:30 a.m.
F1 Extra NBCSN 10 a.m.
F1 Italian Grand Prix (Encore) NBCSN 1 p.m.
F1 Extra (Encore) NBCSN 3:30 p.m.

Haas F1 tussling in middle of pack in 2nd season

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) For a second-year Formula One team, Haas F1 should be all smiles.

The only U.S.-based team on the grid has faster cars and has already scored more points this year behind veteran drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen than it did in all of 2016.

Yet it’s that sort of success that can both please and frustrate team principal Guenther Steiner and test the patience of industrialist owner Gene Haas: Despite the better results, Haas hasn’t moved any closer to the front of the team standings as it scraps around the middle of the pack while Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull grab all the glory.

“There are so many people fighting for the crumbs,” Steiner said ahead of the U.S. Grand Prix. “I didn’t expect the competition in the midfield to be so brutal this year.”

Still, it’s better to be in the middle of the scrap than left behind.

“It’s been an up-and-down season,” Magnussen said. “When we’re quick, we’re very quick, but our lows have been perhaps a bit too low.”

For Haas F1, this race weekend is a homecoming of sorts. While the team is based in North Carolina, the Texas race is the only one on the calendar in the U.S., making Haas F1 the home “favorite” with American fans even if it really has no chance of winning.

“It would be nice to put a whole weekend together, have good practices, good weather, not wreck your car… kind of like we did in Japan,” Haas said.

The Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago delivered Haas F1’s best overall performance this year. It was the first time this season both cars finished in the top 10 and put them at seventh in the team standings with 42 points, one place and already 13 points better than their 2016 finish.

While Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are closing in on another team and drivers’ championship, only 24 points separate the team standings from fifth through eighth place. The most exciting battles and daring drives over the final four races could come from the middle of the pack as teams scuffle for points and the season-ending money that comes with them.

“We’re in that tight pack that ebbs and flows from race to race,” Gene Haas said. “It’s a constant dance around each other for position.”

Haas is still getting used to a Formula One reality that only a few teams have a realistic chance of winning each week and others just dream for a shot at a podium finish. He came to Formula One from NASCAR – where he is still a partner in Stewart-Haas Racing – and a track environment where “at any race, every team has a chance to win.”

Haas F1 impressed the rest of the teams just by not finishing on the bottom in its first season in 2016. That only raised expectations the team could fight its way to the front of the second tier this year. This season began with a thud when both Haas cars failed to finish the first race in Australia. That hasn’t happened since and the team has scored in three of the last five races.

Gene Haas figures reliability problems – a failed suspension system recently knocked Magnussen out of a top-10 finish – have cost his team dearly.

“Right now I feel like our drivers are better than our cars,” he said.

Haas got into F1 with an admitted goal of boosting his commercial enterprises as a high-tech tool manufacturer and he says that’s paying off away from the track. The trick is staying long-term in a very expensive sport that sees heavyweight manufacturers like Ferrari and Mercedes sometimes double or triple the budgets of other teams.

Formula One has not been kind to small teams that join the grid only to go bust within a few years. Haas is the first American-owned team in the series in 30 years. Three other teams that tried to start from scratch since 2010 – Caterham, HRT and Manor – all collapsed and went out of business. Haas said he as a five-year plan in F1 to see if he can stay longer.

“If you do the five-year plan and you look at (those) teams from the past, their five-year plan was they went out of business. You want to avoid that one,” Haas said.

Grosjean, who signed with Haas from Lotus, said he expects the team to be on the grid for the long haul.

“He’s the best team owner I’ve ever had,” Grosjean said. “He’s passionate about racing and really loves it to a high extent. We know the gap is big right now, but that’s where the patience is.”